number of investigations into suspected Nazi war crimes rose considerably
last year, states the Simon Wiesenthal Center. According to the organization’s
latest report, during the period from April 2009 to March 2010 there
were 852 inquiries made worldwide. This is a serious rise in comparison
to 706 investigations for the same period in 2008/2009.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center is a global Jewish human rights organization that
fights anti-Semitism, hatred and terrorism around the planet and
also “teaches the lessons of the Holocaust for future generations”.
Having worldwide support, it is accredited as an NGO by the most
influential international organizations, such as the United Nations,
the Council of Europe and UNESCO.
The center was named after Simon Wiesenthal – a famous
freelance Nazi hunter, who, being a survivor of the death camps,
dedicated his life to hunting down former Nazis.
The author of SWC’s annual report is Efraim Zuroff
– head of the organization’s Jerusalem branch whose main aim is investigation
of suspected World War II Nazi criminals. Commenting last year’s
increase in investigation activities, Mr. Zuroff said that ”it's
clear that we're reaching the end of the period in which this work
will be possible. This has motivated countries with the political
will to make an effort to prosecute former Nazis. There's now a greater
sensitivity to Holocaust crimes and more knowledge of them.”
This time SWC also awarded Germany an A-grade for
its efforts in prosecuting Nazi war criminals. This was the first
time that the top grade has been received by any other country except
the United States. The increase in Germany’s cases against Nazis
is truly impressive – from 27 in 2008/09 to 177 in 2009/10. According
to Efraim Zuroff, the main reason for such a dramatic increase is
the fact ”that Germany in particular has changed its prosecution
policy", allowing more suspects – including those who hadn’t been officer class of those
of non-German origin - to be prosecuted. "While there are still some problems in Germany, we have to give it the highest
grade because of the progress it has made," said Zuroff, "We wanted to indicate our satisfaction with this."
The other reason for Germany receiving the highest
grade by instead of USA, may be last year’s scandal over the disclosure
of the CIA classified report. The document lists both the successes
and failures of the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations,
which was created to find and deport Nazis. The report that the Justice
Department had tried to keep secret for years, provided evidence
of the US government collaboration with Nazi criminals in the post-war
period. According to the report, CIA officials provided a safe haven
for a number of Nazis, including Otto Von Bolschwing – a close associate
to Adolf Eichmann, who had been involved in the plan “to purge Germany
of the Jews”. Some analysts claim that Eichman himself had been protected
by CIA for years, which didn’t stop Mossad from capturing him in
Argentina and bringing him to Israel for trial and execution.
The Justice Department has refused to make the report
public since 2006. Under the threat of a lawsuit, it had to present
a considerably edited version to a private research group, the National
Security Archive, but the complete version was soon obtained by New
The Simon Wiesenthal Center also published an annually
updated list of the top 10 most wanted Nazi criminals. In the current
list the top position belongs to Sandor Kepiro, accused of organizing
the mass murder of more than 1,250 civilians at Novy Sad, Serbia
in 1942. Kepiro was convicted in Hungary in 1944, but never faced
punishment. Hungary started a new criminal investigation against
him more than three years ago. The previous number one – John Demjanjuk,
is currently on trial in Germany.
The head of SWC’s Jerusalem branch Efraim Zuroff,
who has played an important role in prosecuting these and many other
war criminals, expressed his content with the increase in the investigation
process. Commenting the fact that he reconsidered his recent decision
to cease his activities, Mr. Zuroff stated: "Given the positive developments in Germany it would be silly to end my work now".